Regulator embeds Hazelwood mine fire workforce

Communities across the Latrobe Valley will be safer this summer when warmer weather returns with new staffing levels permanently in place at the Hazelwood Coal Mine.

Earth Resources Regulation has approved a Work Plan variation for the mine, which embeds the workforce required to prevent and control any mine fires 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The work plan sets the staffing levels required by Earth Resources Regulation in August 2018 when it issued a notice to Hazelwood Power Corporation Ltd.

Following extensive assessment and consultation with the CFA, Worksafe and Hazelwood Power Corporation, the Work Plan outlines the minimum workforce required under different fire danger conditions.

Staff numbers on site at any time will depend on the forecast and actual conditions.

Up to 24 staff need to be on duty under very high fire danger conditions and up to 34 staff under severe to extreme conditions.

Fire Danger ratingBaselineModerateHigh Very high Severe extreme – Code red
Minimum staffing levels 5 6 to 8 8 to 12 12 to 24 30 to 34

Additional measures have been built-in to the work plan to underpin the new requirements, including:

  • adopting the CFA’s fire risk rating scheme, with an additional level of safeguards, such as extra staffing if there is an active fire nearby, and
  • developing an updated training program to ensure crews are well prepared.

Practice exercises have been successfully run to test the new requirements.

As noted by Earth Resources Regulation’s Executive Director Anthony Hurst:

“The work plan variation requires Hazelwood Power Corporation to maintain a competent workforce to prevent and control mine fires 24/7, across a range of weather conditions and situations.”

“We’ll continue to work closely with our co-regulators, the CFA and Worksafe, to monitor the new arrangements.”

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